can fashion still have a political ambition?
In 2003, i-D asked two hundred fashion designers if fashion can have a political ambition. It was the Blair years and Katharine Hamnett sent models down the catwalk wearing T-shirts that read, ‘STOP WAR, BLAIR OUT’ in protest of the invasion of Iraq...
"Everything can be political. It doesn't matter what you do. When Charlie Hebdo happened, I wrote, 'All good art is political.' So I think that fashion that becomes political is done really well. If you have a point of view and a vision, it always becomes political."
Olivier Rousteing, Balmain
"I suppose it depends on what you're trying to change, but [activism] is just about not being a coward, isn't it? To me, Louise [Wilson] would be an activist, in the way she changed the world and inspired loads of people to go forward and do things in their lives. She's the most powerful person that I've ever encountered. So that's a thing you can do as a human."
"I think that fashion can have a political influence, rather than a political ambition, [but] the days of certain designers influencing society in a 'real' or reactionary way have long gone. In this modern, social media generation, it's difficult to really know whether people are doing something with integrity, or for re-tweets and likes. And the same can be said for fashion and politics. It's great that more designers are addressing social issues through the medium of their clothes, and social media can amplify the message better than anything else has done in the past, but is this actually making a difference or is it just a talking point, for 10 seconds of fame? Awareness is everything, but if people aren't carrying this through to anything physical, then it's missing the point. And so until our [instinct] is to actively do something, it makes no difference."
Agi, from Agi and Sam
"Fashion creates dreams, turns wishes into reality and evokes positive feelings. At its core it consists of fun and creativity, but at the same time, it's also a business and a resource for our economy. Fashion has much more power than most people think, but more than political ambitions, it carries great weight within our social landscape. It has the power to generate ideas and emotions from society, while at the same time influencing it with new trends, new perspectives on fashion and new creative thoughts. Even if people believe that fashion does not concern their lives, it definitely does!"
Dean and Dan Caten, DSquared2
"The amazing thing about fashion is that it involves everyone, and individuals can interpret it completely as they wish. It's a tool that can be used to promote diversity because fashion reaches across cultures and beliefs. Personally I don't have a political ambition with my designs, but I do have an ambition to create a bond between people who appreciate the brand - a bond that will empower them and make them feel amazing."
"Fashion has always had tremendous power. When our company came of age in the 80s, we took women out of boxy men's suits and put them into clothes that empowered them as women. Our brand still embraces that message. Now, through my Urban Zen Foundation, the message is philanthropic. How do we give back, help others? I'm passionate about conscious consumerism, where there's an intention behind what you make and who benefits, whether it's sustaining an artisan tradition or a community."
"'Ambition' is the one word that saves this question from being useless, for we all know that fashion never ever had a political impact. 'Ambition' is cool, because it's what one could aim for, like a good finish in a sport stroke. 'Still' implies that fashion had political ambition in the past: I don't see this at all. Can I remember when 'fashion' ever had a political ambition concerning today's real political issues? From subprimes to the rotten nature of the finance industry? The rise of Islamic fascism? (Certainly our smart guys would avoid that question, because it may damage a big part of their market.) The Chinese invasion of Africa? (Same thing here, who wants to avoid the "it bag" potential in China?) No. I shall stop here. It's a sunny Saturday and I want to enjoy it. Fashion eventually sends signs. Political ambition, it is not."
Jean Touitou, A.P.C
"Fashion for me is expressing everything I want to say but can't find the words for — a personal manifesto. Anything political is incidental. If I really wanted to be political, I would try to be a politician."
"Fashion always tries to find ways to stay on point, but I don't like it when politicians have a fashion ambition."